Drink & Dish: Buffalo Chicken Dip {with video!}



Let’s talk for a second about making a video.

Healthy Buffalo Chicken Dip

It’s, um…hard. I naively assumed that I would be great at this, You see, I’m an actor. I have a degree in musical theatre. This is what I teach people to do all day long, right??? Well, as it turns out, it’s not quite that simple. Shocking, right? But it is a whole lot of fun!

Healthy Buffalo Chicken Dip

I believe it was the day that Nicole and I ran 21 miles that we decided to create our own internet cooking show. When we talk about food, we run faster. We spend a lot of time talking about food.

Healthy Buffalo Chicken Dip

I think the hardest part of this process for me was that my big, ridiculous, often over-the-top personality doesn’t always translate to a tiny little camera box. Nicole kept telling me I was shouting because I’m so used to having to project on stage, haha. It’s definitely a learning process, and there are quite a few things I want to work on for the next time (like, oh…actually plugging in our microphone and shooting in the hd format…whoops…), but I am pretty proud of what we put together.

Healthy Buffalo Chicken Dip

Make sure you go over to Nicole’s page to check out her recipe too!

Buffalo Chicken Dip

yield your entire party

  • 9-11 oz chicken breast, cooked and shredded 
  • 4 oz reduced fat cream cheese
  • 1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 4 oz reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2-3 tsp ranch seasoning
  • 1/3 cup buffalo sauce (or more if you want it spicier)
  • bleu cheese for topping (optional)
  • carrots and celery for dipping

Directions:

  1. Combine chicken, cream cheese, Greek yogurt, cheddar cheese, ranch seasoning, and buffalo sauce in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Stir constantly until all items are incorporated and dip is heated throughout, about 10-15 minutes.
  2. Serve topped with crumbled bleu cheese, with carrots and celery. Dip can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for one week, and reheated or eaten cold (if you’re weird like me ;) ).

Cheesy Broccoli Soup with Roasted Corn

The weather has been unusually cold and rainy here in Phoenix. Not that I’m complaining. We only get about 5 days a year of this, and so it’s kind of like a treat.

Cheesey Broccoli Soup with Roasted Corn #vegetarian #glutenfree

I generally like to keep my schedule jam packed, constantly going from one thing to the next, but when the weather gets like this, it’s like one of life’s little reminders to slow down, cuddle up under a blanket with the puppies, and listen to the rainfall.

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Oh, and eat my body weight in rich. creamy, hot soup. I could probably eat soup year round. I love it sososo much, but when it’s 115* outside, it sort of loses it’s luster, if you know what I mean.

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Therefore, after December 25th, when I stop eating cookies for dinner every single night, I usually declare the month of January soup month, and cook pretty much only soup for the entire month. I’m sure my husband loves it, and never gets bored.

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I’m such a creature of habbit. Have I ever told you I eat the same thing for breakfast every.single.day.? Pumpkin, Greek yogurt, chopped apple, chia seeds, spices, and cereal on top. It’s really….weird. But I love it. Steve makes fun of it. I find him rude. Also, when I find a lunch I’m into, I eat that every day as well. Lately, it’s a grilled sandwich with hummus, cheese, mustard, and lots of veggies. It’s delicious.

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So, I’ve been enjoying my month of soup. I had a serious craving for broccoli cheddar soup, and then I went grocery shopping and saw that the ears of corn actually looked good. In January. I decided that was a sign that corn needed to make it’s way into my soup.

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This isn’t your typical broccoli cheese soup. The corn makes it thick, and chunky, and it’s more creamy than cheesey, because I didn’t want to add an entire block of cheese. Right about the time it was ready, I got reallll nervous, and told Jason we might just be eating bread for dinner (I made some really delicious biscuits to go with it that I never doubted for a second), but I decided I would take pictures juuuust in case. Then I took a bite, and I couldn’t believe how much I loved it! It was different than what I was expecting with the initial broccoli cheddar feel, but I absolutely loved the rich creaminess with the texture of the broccoli and corn.

 

Cheesey Broccoli Soup with Roasted Corn

yield 6 servings

  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 3 ears sweet corn
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 lb fresh broccoli florets, chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • dash hot sauce
  • 4 oz freshly grated reduced fat cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400. Place corn in a large baking dish. Drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil, and add salt and pepper if desired. Roast for 1 hour until lightly browned.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large pot over medium heat, saute onion and garlic in olive oil until fragrant. Add almond milk and veggie stalk whisking together for 3-5 minutes. 
  3. Add broccoli, salt, pepper, and hot sauce. Reduce heat to medium low, and continue to cook until broccoli is tender, about 40-50 minutes.
  4. Remove pot from heat, and pulse with an immersion blender, until desired consistency (I like mine chunky, so I only pulse it through a few times. For a smoother soup, blend for longer, or transfer soup to a blender to blend completely).
  5. Return pot to heat, turn down to low, and add cheddar cheese. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes.
  6. When corn is finished cooking, scrape kernels off with a knife. Stir in corn and Greek yogurt, and serve. Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Chai Spiced Snickerdoodles {vegan}

Chai Spiced Snickerdoodles #vegan

Before I tell you about these amazing cookies, I wanted to say a HUGE thank you for all of the kind comments on my marathon recap. You guys sure know how to make me cry over, and over, and over again. Of course I do this for me first, but your support really makes it worth all of the pain and challenges so, from the bottom of my heart, thank you.

Chai Spiced Snickerdoodles #vegan

I made these cookies to compensate for my visually challenged cookies. As soon as they came out of the oven with that perfect crackle on top, I was thrilled that not just a better looking cookie had come out of my oven, but a downright beautiful cookie! Then the pessimist in me decided that surely they were going to taste bad, because that’s how that day was going.

http://arismenu.com/peanut-butter-oatmeal-cookies-with-dark-chocolate-cherries-coconut/

You.Guys. They were so the opposite of bad!!! I bit into one, and was greeted with my most sought after cookie texture–slightly crunchy on the outside, with a soft, gooey, buttery (even though they include NO butter!) texture inside. In my book, that is cookie perfection!

hChai Spiced Snickerdoodles #vegan

When I stopped freaking out about the texture miracle, I started to focus on the flavor of these bad boys, and holy cow, they are delicious! Spicy homemade chai spice blend mixed with sweet sugar cookie flavor creating a sweet and comforting cookie that tastes like it came from your grandma’s old recipes.

Chai Spiced Snickerdoodles #vegan

 

“Okay maybe these are the best cookies you have ever made.” My husband’s cookie heart is so fickle.

Chai Spiced Snickerdoodles

yield 2 1/2 – 3 dozen

Lightly adapted from Post Punk Kitchen

For the cookies:

  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • dash salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup apple butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 3 tbsp unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract

For the coating:

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 3/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch cloves
  • pinch ground nutmeg

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat together apple butter,sugar, maple syrup, and almond milk until well combined. Add vanilla, then add dry ingredients and mix until well combined.
  4. In a wide, shallow bowl, combine ingredients for the coating. Lightly spray hands with nonstick spray, then roll dough into one inch balls. Roll in the sugar mixture to coat completely, then transfer to baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough.
  5. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned. They may look underdone, but do not over bake. They will set more as they cool. Let stand for 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

The Day I Became a Marathoner

Oh man…you guys, I don’t even know where to start. This was no where near the race I had been dreaming of, but in it’s own way, it was still the perfect race. FYI: This post is longer than long. Grab a mug o’ coffee, and settle in. :) pfchangs2013-282

Let’s back up a bit. Over a month ago, I woke up to a super tight feeling in my hip. It’s something I’ve felt before, and never from running (I think it has to do with sleeping position?), but I’ve never run with that feeling. I woke up to this feeling the day I had an 18 miler scheduled. It hurt for the first several miles, but eventually loosened itself up, and it was fine.

Then a week later, I woke up the morning after a 14 mile run with a horrible pain in my knee that was like nothing I had ever experienced before. I called Coach Susan, freaked out a bit, took a week off running, then came back to run a killer 21 miler that felt absolutely perfect. After that perfect run, I got sick, and didn’t run for an other week until I ran an 11 miler that left my knee back in pain. I took more time off, and tried to run my final “long” 8 mile run, but stopped after 5 because my knee hurt.

I thought that I was okay, that I was not in too much pain, and I was just being cautious. I took a week and a half off running before the marathon. I iced, rolled, stretched, went to PT, and I swore to myself those 10 days off running would cure everything. Then on Saturday morning I ran for 15 minutes with Nicole, and my knee hurt. It hurt while I ran, and it hurt all day afterwards. Regardless, I showed up at the starting line hopeful, and ready to achieve my 4:29:59 goal that I never announced publicly, because I didn’t want to be disappointed if I didn’t reach it.

Nicole and I got to the start ridiculously early, and after over an hour of hanging out, we were on our way to the starting line where I saw Nacho. I screamed when I ran into him, cried a little, cried more during the national anthem, and then we were off. I kept telling Nicole I couldn’t believe we were running a marathon! Almost as soon as we’d taken off, I hear a man call out my name. I turned around and he said “I read your blog!” I about died. I was sosoSO excited! His name is Scott, and he ran Whiskey Row also. He saw my name on my shirt, said hello, and made my day! HI SCOTT!! I hope you had a great race!

Let me tell you, we had such AMAZING support! At mile 1, we saw Nacho, and he told us he’d be waiting for us at mile 9 (I think?), then around mile 3-4 we saw Emily and Lance, and Steve with my mom and Hank. I screamed when I saw my mom because I knew she was coming, but I didn’t know where she was going to be. They were screaming their faces off and taking pictures. I was still so happy here!

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"IT'S MY MOM!!!!!"

“IT’S MY MOM!!!!!”

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All of our long runs, we have been great at starting slow (usually 10:40ish), and gradually working our way down to around 9:30s, averaging around 10 min/miles. For 9 we were perfectly on track, regardless of the fact that my knee started hurting before the mile 1 marker, and that I had woken up with that same tightness in my hip. Our first mile clocked in at 10:30, and we were slowly getting faster, walking through all the water stations, and staying on target.

Mile 9 came in at 10:01, and then we stopped to use the porta potties, and I don’t know if it was the stop or what, but the pain in my knee got bad. Really bad. Like, every step was so painful, and I was starting to limp run. Luckily, we soon ran into Nacho. I was starting to take walking breaks really often, and I told him I was struggling. I tried to convince Nicole to go up ahead, but she insisted we were staying together. As much as I wanted her to go on and get the time I knew she was capable of, I was so relieved that she didn’t leave.

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This is the face of someone you want next to you during a marathon. How can you hate life when your with this freakish cheeriness????

"My name is Nicole, and I am the HAPPIEST RUNNER EVER!"

“My name is Nicole, and I am the HAPPIEST RUNNER EVER!”

I have never been in so much pain while running, and I was legitimately scared, and even started to wonder if this race was worth making an injury worse. I decided it was. There is no question that this was not the “smart” decision, but for me, it was the right choice. When Nacho saw how badly I was doing, he started to run with us. In his jeans. He ran with us for miles. Between miles 10-14, I was just in a bad mental place. I was in so much pain, and I was upset about being in so much pain, and I felt an intense amount of guilt for ruining Nicole’s race. She was staying positive, and trying to snap me out of it. At mile 14, I saw my dad, Hermano and Cindy, and I started crying, but shortly after I finally accepted the fact that I was injured, and I needed to stop waiting for the pain to go away, and focus on running the best I could on that day. pfchangs2013-169

Nacho stopped around mile 15, and told us he would see us on our way back (this was the only part of the course that had an out and back section). At the turn around at mile 16, we saw one of Nicole’s cheering sections, and before we knew it, we were on our way back down Indian School. Then, my stomach started bugging me, and around mile 17, we stopped for the bathroom again. We continued with run/walk/stretch over and over and over.

Just before mile 18, we saw Tim, and when he walked with us for a little while. He is such an inspiration, and he put a lot into perspective for me during this process. It was so nice that he walked with us for a while and encouraged me! He said this was the toughest part of the marathon, and that we were doing great. Soon after, we caught back up to Nacho, and he ran with us even MORE. He refused to let me get down, and kept saying “The Ari I know doesn’t give up”. At mile 19, I saw my dad, Hermano and Cindy again, and I knew that my big cheering section was coming up soon. Nacho continued to run with us up until mile 20.5 where he said goodbye, and said he would see us at the Mill Avenue bridge. I was so amazed, and overwhelmed by his support, and how he was there when I needed him.

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I have no idea when in the race this photo was taken, but I was ready for an other picture.

Just before mile 21, from almost 1/4 mile away, I heard my mother-in-law (I wish there was a cuter term than mother-in-law PS) shout my name. I started pushing with all of my might, and it was almost like a mirage. A HUGE group of friends and family with signs for days shouting “GO ARI AND NICOLE!” I hugged my adorable niece, cried more, and Jason came up beside me, and told me that I was doing great. Steve had told them that I was having a rough time, but they were all great about not asking if I was okay, and just staying positive. Lisa (who is pregnant as can be) and Bethany started running with us and chanting with their signs. It was unbelievable. I felt so incredibly loved, and I was so grateful that I had decided to keep running. I knew quitting wasn’t an option, and mostly because I knew I couldn’t disappoint everyone who had given so much for me to get here.

At this point, exhaustion crept in. I didn’t expect to feel so tired because I had been walking so often, but the pain in my knee had traveled up to my hip and basically my entire left leg had been feeling a mess regardless of stopping at a medic station for ibuprofen, and being handed a mysterious prescription pain pill at mile 19 (don’t try this at home, kids). Every time I tried to pick up my leg, it felt impossible, and all of the sudden it wasn’t just hard because my knee hurt, it was just hard. From this point on, Steve stayed right by us on his bike. He had been on and off throughout the course. Originally I told him I only wanted to see him a few times so I could focus on the race, but when I started struggling, he showed up more and more often, and I was so grateful.

At this point he stayed by our side offering encouraging words. He happened to be wearing a shirt that made him look like he was a medic and someone thanked him for his service! Cracked me up. We saw Nicole’s cheering squad at Mile 23, then Lisa and some other BTB members at mile 25, and Jaime right after. Nacho was waiting at the bridge, just like he promised, and he ran the rest of the way with us, even through the finish line. If you ask me, he deserved it. After 26 miles of pain, we had finally made it. Nicole and I grabbed hands, and ran through the finish line holding hands, just as we had set out to do.

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At first, it didn’t seem real. It wasn’t until I found Coach Susan that it started to sink in, and I started sobbing. I told her that my knee had hurt since the beginning and she hugged me, told me that I was a marathoner, and said “You ran your first marathon in 5 hours with an injury? That makes you a fucking badass. Excuse my language.” Then she told me she loved me, and that she really felt like it was her daughter who was out there. At some point in New York, we decided that I could be her daughter, so now she’s my running mom ;)

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There is so much about this experience that I still can’t even explain. Nicole stuck with me as we watched all of our time goals slip out of sight. Even at the end when the 5 hour pacer got out of our sight (that one hurt), and we watched our last time goal go by the wayside, she never left my side. After five hours and four minutes of running through pain, we became marathoners together, and I couldn’t have done it without her. It may not have been the race I dreamed of, but I experienced love and generosity that blew me away. I discovered a determination and dedication I didn’t know I possessed, and I finished.

I will say this: No matter how much pain I was in or how short my spurts of running were, I never gave up and stopped trying. Even when I could only run for a minute at a time before the pain got bad, I would run for a minute. I am still ridiculously happy, and proud to be a marathoner. I am proud that I pushed through something that would make so many people stop, and I’m proud that after 7 months, it finally became possible. Regardless of the physical pain, I managed to have one of the happiest days of my life, and I feel so undeserving of all of the kindness I have received. People told me that I am an inspiration, but it is the love and kindness I received from the people I love that I really find inspiring. Damn, I am lucky.

Thank you for all the support, and for all the love and comments along this journey. It has been incredible, and I can’t wait to see where it takes me next.

Peanut Butter Chip Brownie Cookies

This was the last thing I made in 2012, and let me tell you, it was a heck of a way to end out the year!Peanut Butter Chip Brownie Cookies

 

You see, our New Years Eve was realllll exciting. I had stopped drinking for taper (or I had said I was, then had a glass of champagne, then went to a wedding 2 weeks later, and well, ya know…), and we were all exhausted from the holidays. We went to a friends house, watched Looper (Matt’s choice) which I didn’t like at all, then watched Burlesque (my choice) which never gets old if you ask me.

Peanut Butter Chip Brownie Cookies

 

I’m not sure which part of my evening was better: these cookies, or Cher’s You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me. It’s a really tough choice, so I will say the best part of my evening was eating my weight in these cookies while watching Cher sing her heart out during her 11 o clock number.

Peanut Butter Chip Brownie Cookies

 

Fresh out of ideas from my overkill holiday baking, I hit up my girl Sally’s site for some inspiration. I knew I was craving something with chocolate and peanut butter, and I had some peanut butter chips I’d been wanting to use, so I looked for a base chocolate cookie recipe.

Peanut Butter Chip Brownie Cookies

 

I wasn’t surprised that Sally’s cookies delivered (her recipes are amaaaaazing), but I was pretty blown away by just how amazing these cookies were! They had the perfect flakey brownie top, and the middle was rich and gooey like a perfect batch of brownies, but in my favorite baked good. Can you tell cookies are my favorite thing to make? I think my recipe page speaks for itself. ;)

Peanut Butter Chip Brownie Cookies

 

The peanut butter chips add the perfect touch, and we all know that chocolate and peanut butter is the best combination since pb&j. Steve also said more than a few times that these were “the best cookies I’ve ever made”, and since we all know how many cookies I make, you know these are a must try!

 

Peanut Butter Chip Brownie Cookies

yield 2 dozen 

adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction

  • 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • dash salt
  • 4 oz dark chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 tbsp apple butter
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter chips

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together chocolate, egg, vanilla, apple butter, and sugars until well combined, then slowly beat in dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in peanut butter chips. Cover and chill for 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 350. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat. Use a small cookie scoop to transfer dough to prepared cookie sheets. Use a small piece of parchment paper sprayed with nonstick spray to lightly press down dough balls to flatten slightly (they don’t spread when they bake, so if you don’t flatten them, you will end up with round cookies).
  4. Bake for 10 minutes until just set. Let stand for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for one week (these cookies stay pretty darn soft and gooey for days!).